Like father like son
I was at Monaco 30 years ago when Nico Rosberg’s Dad took his Williams-Cosworth to victory in the Principality. So for me there was an element of déja vu in this year’s race. But, though those wins by father and son were both brilliantly skilful performances, there’s where the similarity ends. For, whereas Keke’s victory came after a feisty drive in the nimble, underpowered Williams, which outclassed its comparatively clumsy turbo opposition on the twisty track, Nico’s was a controlled one by a consummate professional eking out his tyres while positioning his car perfectly on every corner of every lap of a circuit where the car in front, if driven ‘perfectly’ will always have the advantage.
Monaco, more than any race this year, played right into the hands of the ant-Pirelli camp, the faction of the grand prix fraternity that decries the fact that Formula One is no longer a flat-out blind, but a tyre-conservation game.
But one needs to remember that Monaco is a rather special circuit on which overtaking is difficult, but it treats tyres kindly. So a fast car, as the Mercedes undoubtedly is, just has to take pole position and, provided its driver keeps his nose clean, has to be a shoe-in for victory. Once in front, Rosberg, with Hamilton riding shotgun behind, was able to keep the pace slow in the early laps, conserving his tyres, something he has been unable to do in earlier races, where more easy overtaking has resulted in him losing the lead within a lap or two, despite having the single-lap pace to score poles in Spain and Bahrain. But the chances of a return to the status quo in Montreal are pretty strong… unless Mercedes has been advantaged by attempts by the tyre supplier to mollify the Silver Arrows after much complaining, particularly in the German media.
I’ve been a strong supporter of Pirelli all along, but I must say that reports that they ran a secret three-day test with Mercedes after the Spanish GP have left a bad taste. Such a test, using the current car, is patently illegal under the regulations, as were earlier suggestions that, after complaints from Red Bull and Mercedes, the rubber compounds were to be changed as from the Canadian race. The FIA pointed out that the 2013 tyres had all been approved by the teams at a test in September last year, and the rules forbid such a change, unless on safety grounds. So all Pirelli is allowed to do is take steps to prevent a recurrence of a few delaminations that have happened so far this season, though many suggest that these have simply been the result of cars picking up accident debris.
Anyway, full marks to Nico Rosberg for a brilliant drive. Although the manner in which he won was different from that of has ol’ man all those years ago, the achievement was on the same level. Now all he has to do is go on to win a world championship!